ISO: A referee

My people are home this week which I normally love.  They are, however, driving me utterly mad with the bickering, the drama, the….well, you get the point.  I need a referee, preferably a hot, male one.  Oh, I said that out loud again, didn’t I?

I’ve cooked some things which I will share once the referee gets here or they go back to school, whichever comes first.  Unless, of course, I’ve consumed so much chocolate and alcohol that I cannot remember how to post something.  This is a definite possibilty.

Send.  Reinforcements.

Another Fantastical Friday!

I should get over this thing I have about Fridays.  But, I can’t.  I just love them.  Even when I have to go to work.  And I discover I’ll be working shorthanded.  Who cares?  Doesn’t even faze me.  Because it’s FRIDAY!  It seriously kind of rocks when the most challenging part of the day is deciding what kind of wine/cocktail am I going to have, what’s for dinner and what mindless thing shall I watch on television.  Not a bad day at all.

The good news is that my friend, Evie, had her twice annual MRI to monitor her brain bleed.  No change.  The whole ‘oh, I’ve had this brain bleed all my life’ doesn’t seem to overly bother her.  She lives life full out.  For those of us that love her, it’s a little bit scarier.  She’s lost her sense of smell the last few months which the docs are saying might be due to her migraines, not the Nigerians that her phone blamed it on.  Her phone, it seems, has the same sense of humor as mine.

sisters

I have finished Sisters in Law. The book’s centerpieces are the lives and careers, judicial and otherwise, of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. This is a book that, no matter your politics, will both anger and please you. For those of us that are female and don’t mind people of varying opinions, it is a fascinating look at society and how society is shaped by judicial opinion, or vice versa. I don’t know that I would ever call myself a feminist. I find that too limiting. I believe that all people should be treated well and fairly. That the world needs a lot more kindness. More tolerance, love and understanding. Having said that, I know that the world is shaped by many people that believe that they know best and that this books shows just the tiniest sliver of that.

Enough of all these deep thoughts. Tonight I’m thinking that I need to make something yummy.  Some new cookie for M.  And some Shrimp Scampi Pasta for me!  Yeah, yeah, I’ll feed the people too, just maybe not this.

scampi

Supposedly, this recipe serves four.  I don’t know who these four are because in my house it serves two, with enough leftover for lunch for one person…..assuming that person isn’t me and starving.  It’s super fast and super easy, one of my top five go to meals.  So, it’s not overly healthy.  Sometimes, you just want fast and yummy.  If you want it to serve four, make a nice salad and some lovely veggies.  I’m going to make cocktails instead!

Shrimp Scampi Pasta, adapted from Epicurious

  • 3/4 of a pound of angel hair pasta
  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined (my grocery sells the 51-60 count – in other words, small ones, already peeled and deveined.  Make your life easy get those!)
  • 1-2 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 c white wine (one you’d drink!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp each, red pepper flakes and black pepper
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • Chopped flat leafed parsley (probably a tbs or more)

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water.  Don’t overcook it, you want it to be cooked but still have a bit of bite or texture.  I’m a weirdo about how pasta is cooked, sorry.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook through – 2-5 minutes, depending on your shrimp, the stirring, etc.  When cooked through, removed with a slotted spoon to a bowl.  Add garlic to the leftover oil.  If you’re me and got distracted and there isn’t any oil leftover, add a bit more, then add the wine, salt, pepper flakes and pepper, stir for about a minute.  Then add the butter and stir until melted.  Then I toss in the pasta, shrimp, parsley and stir.  Fast, easy and yummy!  Of course, you can add more pepper flakes a la M.  It’s your dinner, live on the edge.

Have a great weekend everyone!

PS  I miss spell check.  Does anyone know where it went??????

 

 

Wonderful Wednesday!

My littlest one announced the day as ‘Wonderful Wednesday!’  It’s dark.  It’s windy.  It’s monsooning.  What’s so wonderful, exactly?  Only two more days of school after today then he’s off for a week.  I want to be him.

I’m not a big Thanksgiving person.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine and I love seeing everyone but I’m a Christmas girl.  Christmas is MY holiday.  Minus the shopping.  Everything else?  LOVE.  IT.

winter street

I thought I’d get in the spirit a bit early so I picked up Winter Street.  I love a good holiday book to remind me of all the fun parts of the season….the baking, the fun with friends and family, the eating, the singing, the gingerbread houses.  Did I mention the eating?  Winter Street has all the lovely imagery.  Wintry scenes (which exists only in my imagination, not my reality), lovely Christmas trees, lovelier food…..it’s the rest of the story that doesn’t quite meet expectations.  This book, it seems, was meant as a two parter.  Or I assume that’s the case as there’s another with a similar name.  I’m not certain I’ll be reading the second as there wasn’t that much to like, much less love, about the first.  It’s about the story people, not just the imagery.  C’mon!  I need a good holiday book.  Suggestions?????

The recent events in Paris had me thinking about people and things in that lovely city that I care about.  Paris is the home of one of my favorite  Pastry Chefs, David Lebovitz.  After checking on my real friends that live or are on holiday there, I had to check in on my imaginary friend.  Read as I spent too much time on his blog while awaiting texts and what not from said real friends.  I stumbled across these:

dark chocolate brownies

Salty, Deep-Dark Chocolate Brownies.  They were calling me!  They’re not overly sweet so, you know, I had to fix that and drizzle some extra chocolate all over the top.  The sacrifices I must make.  Let me just say that it is well worth using the best cocoa powder you can get your hands on.  I used Callebaut and because I’m freaking impatient I simply couldn’t wait, a Hershey’s special dark that I got at the local market.  Next time, I’ll follow his advice and order something just for these.  If you like that crispy edge thing that brownies have going on, then you will love the tops of these.  Go generous with the sea salt.  I thought I’d overdone it.  Not the case.  Divine!

Oh, and can anyone tell me where the spell check button went on this thing?  I’m feeling stressed.  Where’s the chocolate?

 

Where has the week gone?

I have had a crazy busy but mostly just crazy week.  How about you?

Tuesday afternoon, the eldest tiny human came home from school and says ‘Sorry, Mom’….  um, hello, darling son, how was your day?  And you’re apologizing why, exactly?  His response?  Oh, you’ll get a call.  Oh, I don’t think so.  You’d better start talking.  Boy skirmish in the lunch room.  Someone picked on him.  He ended that.  Boys are now buddies.  Boys are weird.  Boys will be in Saturday school (detention) and want to go for doughnuts after.  Yeah, like I said, boys are weird.  Principal just laughed over my reaction.  I explained that said child is a hockey goalie and I’ve learned that this is not unusual boy behavior.  Nothing to get worked up about…..no blood was shed.  I blame the XY.  I don’t need to understand it.  Sometimes, you just gotta roll with it, baby!

Wednesday was Veteran’s Day.  If you are one, if you are active military, if you’ve family or friends that are or if you’re that dude from the battery store, THANK YOU.  I am blessed to have been able to travel a LOT.  We are so blessed to live in such a wonderful country.  I cannot properly convey my respect and gratitude to those that lay down their very lives to protect that which we all hold dear.  You know who you are.  We appreciate and love you.

My gorgeous friend, Peter, is military so my littlest one wanted me to call him to see how he was celebrating the holiday.  Big shocker, he was working.  Away from home.  And no, there’s no news on that lesion on his spine.  Bone scan scheduled in another week or so.  The waiting is wicked hard.

devoted

I finished Devoted in Death, the newest in the “In Death” series.  It’s mind candy.  I love the characters, the story, the continuity.  Definitely not a literary, pay attention to me masterpiece but perfect when you just want a quick, relaxing read.  This series nails it.

purity

I made it about three-quarters of the way through Purity until I realized that I didn’t like or care about any of the characters and that I was starting to get twitchy with the desire for the book to end.  Such good reviews too.  Maybe there is something to people being paid to post nice reviews on Amazon.  Hmm.

And because you cannot go into the weekend without something fun to bake up, here’s yet another in my repertoire of chocolate chip cookies!  These are courtesy of Tate’s Bake Shop.  They are thin, crispy and fabulous!

cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. salted butter
  • 3/4 cup each sugar and packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c semisweet chocolate chips (big bags on sale at Costco!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.  Cream together the butter and sugars, then add the water and vanilla.  Add the eggs and mix until just combined.  Add flour mixture.  Again, just mix until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

The recipe says to drop the cookies two inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet, using an ice cream scoop and bake for 12 minutes.  I use a tiny scoop (because you can eat smaller cookies this way), place them an inch apart and bake for just under 8 minutes until they are nice and brown.  Usually, I think I’ve burned them but no, this just makes them crispy and awesome.  Remember you can eat more if they’re smaller.  That’s my secret tip for ya!  Enjoy.

What part of this wasn’t crazy?

You know I’m big on fun, relaxing weekends.  Nothing better than dinner and a movie with my people.  Catching up after a crazy week.  Chilling before another begins.  Yeah, skip all that.  How about instead I spend about nine or so hours in the car?  With my mother.  Why?  So I could have this:

IMG_1036

Ha!  Just kidding.  That, my friends, was a bonus.  Called a brisket burrito from some tucked away place in Cincinnati.  Fabulous!  Maybe not the best meal after that whole red meat will give you cancer thing.  Screw it.  Order some red wine!

I had this great idea midweek to drive to Cincinnati, to spend the day Saturday.  Because my mom was, understandably, a bit down last week, I figured she’d enjoy a getaway.  Note to self, when you get these brilliant ideas please do not say them out loud.  I called to see if she’d be interested.  Yes, that sounds like fun, she says.  Thirty minutes later, she called to make an excuse as to why it was no longer a good idea.  I should have taken it as a sign.  But, did I?  No, of course not!  I am nothing if not insane stubborn delusional optimistic.  So bright and early Saturday morning, I hopped in the car and drove to her house to pick her up.  (It’s worth noting that she does not live right next door.)  Onward!

Things to know about Cincinnati – it’s in a different time zone.  Oops, missed that.  Still, we managed to arrive in time for lunch.  We were able to spend the afternoon and early evening with my fabulous cousins catching up.  One of them is a cardio god.  (Read as, this woman spends so much time at work that four months after moving into her new place, it looks like she moved a week ago – must order her a plant or print or something fabu.)  The other cousin had flown in from Brazil.  She’s a financial analyst living the dream with the romantic, handsome, South American boyfriend.  Hey, I need some vicarious living , okay?  It was such a FUN day.  Lunch, wine, coffee, dessert, window shopping.  There’s a coffee and wine bar where cardio gods study!  Who does that?  Clearly, people much more brilliant than I.

What’s the lesson here?  Sometimes the craziest plans are so much fun!

Happy Birthday, Daddy

178-001

Grief is a sneaky thing.  I loathe the sneakiness.  Do you hear me?  Loathe!  Despise!  Cannot stand!  There’s no such sneakiness today.

Today would have been my dad’s birthday.  Still is, to my way of thinking.  I hope he’s up there, surrounded by family and friends having a grand ole time!  I can just see him, telling stories, having a cocktail and laughing his big laugh.

I’ve taken the day off.  He would hate that I’m sitting around feeling sad.  I am sad.  But, I’m also pouring through all my photos and videos….you can never have enough of either.  Write that down.  Take more photos and videos.  I’ll probably make a cake later.  Not a traditional birthday cake.  Maybe a pound cake.  I’ll have to go get ice cream so the kiddos can ruin cover their cake with gooey, drippy ice cream, a la Grandpa.  He always thought it was better melty.  Weirdo.  And we’ll share stories.  Memories.

My dad’s advice for the kids before he died was that they should always work with their hands.  That they should find something they love, be it painting as he did, gardening, construction….he wasn’t picky.  He told them that if your hands are active your mind will be as well.  My hands are typing this.  Does that count?  I’m also thinking of taking a painting class.  Unlike him, I’ve no talent there whatsoever.  Still, I think it’d be fun to just let go, be horrible and remember his magic.

They say that loss gets easier with time.  Maybe that’s true.  Maybe not.  I like the sadness.  Because it reminds me of just how much I’ve lost.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I love and miss you more than anyone will ever know.

The struggle is all too real

I often joke about my crazy.  All the weird, horrible stressful things that occur on a daily basis.  I suppose I’ve always subscribed to the better to laugh so you don’t cry philosophy.  Mental well-being and the ability to stay positive, particularly in the face of enormous adversity can be the difference in living or, sadly, not.  I am blessed to be a fairly happy person.  It’s quite normal for me to think that no matter how bad things are that they will get better.  I joke that this simply means I’m delusional.  While that may be the case from time to time, I feel strongly that this sunny disposition is one of my greatest gifts.  Why am I going on and on about this?  Because I’ve just, moments ago, finished reading A Common Struggle.

a common struggle

This is the story, the journey and struggle if you will, of Patrick Kennedy, the youngest son of the late Ted Kennedy.  Everyone knows the tragedies that have befallen this family.  When my husband found out I was reading this book, he was all ‘oh, that’s the book that the Kennedy family isn’t happy about – he dishes on family gossip’.  If you’re looking for that, go elsewhere.  That is not what this book is about.  Instead, it’s a rather haunting depiction of what a diagnosis of mental illness looks like.  In Patrick’s case (yes, of course, we’re on a first name basis), his diagnoses include bipolar disorder, addiction issues and an anxiety disorder.  Despite his struggles, and in large part because of them, he has worked, both as an elected official and private citizen, to help improve mental health treatment/mental health parity in the United States.

Now, I knew prior to reading this that most insurers are pretty stingy when it comes to paying for this type of care.  I will also admit to believing, in small part, the stereotype that addiction issues simply require the desire and strength of the individual to overcome.  If you don’t suffer from these conditions, they are hard, at least for me to understand.  Still, there’s also that part of me that watches my sister, who is bipolar, that knows, truly, that it is a disease that she is, in large part, helpless to fend off without serious assistance.  It’s an interesting book for so many reasons.  It’s an enlightening and often dismally scary look at how mental health care is addressed, or far too often, not addressed with, often, fatal or serious consequences.

It is an easy read, despite the subject matter.  Sadly, I don’t think it will find a large audience.  That is too bad, for so many reasons.  For so many people.